The Needles

The Needles: How Dumb Do They Think We Are?

Andy Chalk | 26 Jan 2010 21:00
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Take-Two and 2k Marin have "scaled back" the DRM in BioShock 2, so they say, in response to a PC community outraged by their attempts to once again impose restrictions on the game by way of SecuROM and its attendant installation limits. The pointless cap on the number of times the game can be installed is gone now, replaced by a much more benign and user-friendly disc check. Oh, and installation limits.

See, the SecuROM install limits are out, which is great because we all know how awful SecuROM is. In its place, Take-Two is going to use Games for Windows Live "non-SSA guidelines," which means, well... install limits. But that's okay too, because it's a Microsoft thing rather than a SecuROM thing, and at the end of the day what really matters isn't whether we're being bent over but who's standing behind us when it happens. Right?

But seriously, folks. Am I the only one who sees a problem here? Because unless I'm grossly misreading the situation, it looks to me very much like Take-Two has done absolutely nothing but shifted the responsibility, and thus the blame, for the installation limit onto someone else. Making the maneuver even more brilliant (aside from its laughable transparency) is that the "someone else" in question is none other than Microsoft and its benighted Games for Windows, which everybody hates anyway but which we are resigned to being stuck with for the rest of eternity. It's like blaming your troubles on God. You wish things were better, but hey, whaddaya gonna do?

The irony of my outrage stems from the fact that I wasn't outraged at all over the DRM in the original BioShock, which limited users to only five installations instead of the 15 allotted to buyers of BioShock 2. Like the smug kid with the "I told you so" attitude, I was happy at the time to suggest to my fellow gamers that perhaps this sort of thing wouldn't happen if they weren't all so busy stealing every damn game they could get their hands on. I was quite content to toe the "party line" and accept this obtrusive new DRM scheme as a necessary evil. "My platform, right of wrong," or something like that.

Two years later, it's hard to see the continued reliance on SecuROM and other such failures as anything but inertia. We're only doing it this way because that's the way we do it. Except that we're not talking about SecuROM anymore, and this isn't inertia; it's a calculated effort to bamboozle gamers by pouring the same crap into a differently-shaped pile and telling everyone how vastly improved it is. And if it turns out that it's not really any better after all, there's always the deniability that comes from being able to point the finger at someone else to fall back on. After all, what's gone wrong in any given situation is never as important as who can be blamed for it.

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